Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Author: Rachel Gordon, Chronicle Staff Writer
Published: Friday, April 22, 2005 - Page A - 1
Copyright: 2005 San Francisco Chronicle
Contact: [email protected]
S.F. Calif. -- With the number of known medical marijuana clubs in San
Francisco now up to 43, Mayor Gavin Newsom proposed on Thursday a number
of regulations he hopes will "address legitimate neighborhood concerns
regarding the location, proliferation and security of these
The recommendations -- many already outlined in state law pertaining to
medical marijuana -- range from forbidding the clubs to operate within
1,000 feet of places where young people congregate, such as playgrounds
and schools, to requiring that operators adhere to good-neighbor
The mayor wants to make sure no one drinks alcohol on the premises, that
minimum security, ventilation and lighting standards are maintained, and
that enforcement procedures are put in place to assure that no one is
selling or buying the controlled substance in violation of Proposition
215, the California law approved by voters in 1996 that sanctioned
medical marijuana for qualified patients.
Dispensaries would have to open their books to city inspectors to verify
that they're operating as a not-for-profit business cooperative or
collective, as required by the state, and that only primary caregivers
and authorized patients are buying the marijuana.
Advocates may fight that provision for fear federal authorities could
seize those records in a raid. The U.S. government and federal courts
have held that cannabis, even if used for medicinal purposes, is
Another Newsom recommendation: Prospective operators would be required
to notify neighbors of their intent to open a club, and the Planning
Department would have to OK the operation.
The closest municipal regulation pertaining to medicinal marijuana clubs
the city now has on its books is the requirement that operators secure a
building permit if the existing use of the property needs to be changed.
However, only a handful of the dispensaries have complied.
"The fact is,'' said Newsom, who described himself as a strong proponent
of medical marijuana, "we're the one county left to our knowledge in the
state (with) multiple marijuana dispensaries that has no regulations
Among the issues still to be worked out is which agency or agencies
would be in charge of regulation, and whether a special operating
license would be imposed on the clubs in part to raise the money to pay
Many of the proposed restrictions would have to be approved by the Board
of Supervisors; the mayor could enact a handful of others through
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who has taken an active interest in the
issue, called Newsom's plan a "good generic outline'' that needs to be
"It's a starting point, and it presents an early forecast that we're all
leaning in the same direction,'' said Mirkarimi, who also has been
devising regulations. "It's really at the level of legislative minutiae
when there may be disagreement.''
Newsom, for instance, suggests banning clubs from operating within 500
feet of one another; some on the board may push to allow closer
proximity to keep some existing clubs from having to close or move.
Mirkarimi is holding a City Hall hearing Monday to kick-start public
discussion on the city's options.
In late March, the Board of Supervisors and the mayor imposed a 45-day
moratorium on new pot clubs, which have been sprouting in the city with
eye- popping speed -- including a few new ones between the time the
moratorium was proposed and enacted. City officials wanted the timeout
to keep more clubs from opening while they craft regulations. Newsom
wants the moratorium, which expires May 15, extended.
Less than two years ago, there were fewer than 20 dispensaries in the
city, but when Oakland and surrounding cities and counties set their own
limits, San Francisco became a magnet.
"I think regulations could do nothing but help us,'' said Chris Montana,
who operates the Love Shack medical cannabis club in the Mission, which
serves about 200 clients a day and has a reputation of working well with
neighbors and adhering to strict, self-imposed operating rules.
"Right now, some of the clubs are having problems,'' Montana said.
"Maybe some of them are in it just for the money, or for some illegal
purpose. With regulations, they'll have a harder time getting into the
Related Articles & Web Site:
Medicinal Cannabis Research Links
More Rules Needed for Pot Clubs
Newsom Declares Moratorium on Marijuana Clubs